By Takesa Frank
Growing up surrounded by the Brooman State Forest has been the most wonderful experience. Many people would say their home is the four walls that provide them with shelter, however, my home goes beyond that; it includes the large amount of bushland around me. It encompasses the forest I ran through as a child with my sibling and the Clyde River where I learnt to swim.
In November through to the end of December in 2019, we watched the forest we call home burn. Two years on there is still a lot of forest that is yet to recover, that may not recover.
The 2019-2020 bushfires had massive impacts on the environment in the South Coast area. According to estimates 12 million hectares of forest were lost, well over one billion animals killed, and 700 species lost. Forty-two per cent of state forest in NSW was burnt, as well as over 80 per cent of forest between Ulladulla and Batemans Bay.
Not long after these bushfires NSW Forestry started to log areas of the native forest that had survived. Until this day they are continuing to log these forests.
Old growth native forests are important for so many things including acting on climate change. This is because forests, especially old growth native forests, store a lot of carbon and help stabilise the environment and ecosystems. In order to have the strong action on climate change which we so desperately need, we must transition out of native forest logging and look towards a more sustainable timber industry so young people can have a future.
Our forests are being destroyed for what; firewood; woodchips; to be shipped overseas. The same forest that was devastatingly burnt in the 2019/2020 summer fires where iconic species like the koala, swift parrot and greater glider are being pushed towards extinction. The same forest that I have spent my entire life within.
This destructive logging of native forests is not exclusive to the South Coast, it occurs all over NSW. This is why we have created a petition to the NSW Parliament to end native forest logging. The Western Australian and Victorian Governments have already committed to ending native logging and have developed transition plans to support affected workers and businesses. It’s time for the NSW state government to do the same.
Logging of public native forests is heavily subsidised by the government, yet Forestry Corporation’s Hardwood Division has been operating at a significant loss for the past decade. In 2020/21 it ran at a loss of $20 million, with predictions that it will face losses of $15 million until 2024. Reports also show our state forests can generate far more income through their protection than from logging, through recreation, tourism and carbon abatement.
The petition to the Legislative Assembly asks the NSW government to (1) develop a plan to transition the native forestry industry to 100 per cent sustainable plantations by 2024; (2) in the interim, place a moratorium on public native forest logging until the regulatory framework reflects the recommendations of the leaked NRC report; (3) immediately protect high-conservation value forests through gazettal in the National Parks estate; and (4) ban use of native forest materials as biomass fuel.
The ePetition End Public Native Forest Logging is open until 2nd August. An electronic petition requires 20,000 signatures to be debated in Parliament. Currently Takesa Frank’s petition has just over 6,800 signatures and there are a lot of wildlife and habitat relying on it getting quite a few more.
Feature image: Logging of mature native forest continues in Brooman State Forest. Photo credit: Takesa Frank